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Proof That Socialized Healthcare Works Better Than Our System

jbullThere has been a lot of noise in the past week or so regarding socialized healthcare, with critics claiming that systems such as the one used in the United Kingdom (UK) are inferior to the one we have here. My husband, being British, finally cracked and decided to take a look at the facts for me. Bear in mind that his 93 year old mother is alive and well in the UK. She pays nothing for house calls by her Doctor and social workers, preventive screenings or any other healthcare cost. Here’s what he has to say…

The healthcare system in the United Kingdom is almost completely socialized. The government runs almost all healthcare providers and the system is paid for out of taxes. There are private insurance plans, but their only real benefits are private rooms and shorter waiting lists. What worries me is that American critics of the UK system are like lemmings being led over a cliff edge by blind leaders. They are quick to seize on any published failures of the UK system, which the British complain about continually until you ask about the cost and quality of actual care (along with the weather and the train services) but ignore similar problems here. The critics are ignoring the facts.

Let’s start with a couple of observations. In June 2009 a team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine that three of every five bankruptcies in the United States are now caused by medical bills. That amounts to approximately 3,450 bankruptcies each day as a result of medical bills. Even worse, three out of four of the people declaring bankruptcy as a result of medical bills have insurance coverage. That’s right! They have insurance coverage, but it failed them when they needed it most. The system is broken.

We all know that one sixth of Americans have no health insurance. One third are covered by government schemes. One half are covered by private schemes. Do you understand that, critics of socialized healthcare? One third of Americans are already covered by completely socialized government schemes. Guess what happens when the uninsured have to receive emergency treatment? The government, charities or healthcare facilities pick up the costs. If it’s the healthcare providers they simply increase their prices to the rest of us to cover their losses. Any way that you look at it, the rest of us are already helping provide minimal support to the uninsured. Moving them to a government system will cut costs by providing preventive screening, guarantee healthcare for everyone and allow us to properly account for the costs.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story for the uninsured. There have been calls lately for the President to declare a “War on Diabetes”, which kills 18,000 Americans a year. They are missing the fact that there are around 22,000 excess deaths per year among uninsured adults aged 25-64. Our health insurance system is killing 60 Americans a day by ignoring them.

We reported in an earlier article that the United States came in at numbers 37, 24 and 72 in three studies of the effectiveness of healthcare systems. How can anybody sensibly claim that we’re number one? There are many components to any assessment of healthcare systems, but I’ve summarized a few key facts below. The USA has a much larger population than the UK, so I’ve averaged figures from France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Spain and compared them with the USA. They all have socialized healthcare systems. The total population of those countries is 315 million, which is comparable to the USA’s population of 307 million.

KEY FACTORS RELATING TO HEALTHCARE
The better figure is in bold type.
Factor United States of America Top 5 European Countries
Number of excess deaths per year among uninsured adults aged 25-64.
22,000
Zero
Number of bankruptcies per year as a result of medical bills.
1.26 Million
Zero
Number of divorces per year to qualify for government aid with medical costs.
Thousands
Zero
Percentage of the population without health insurance.
15%
Zero
Average percentage of income spent on out-of-pocket medical bills.
20%  1
Zero
Average annual cost of healthcare per person.
$7,500
$3,400
Average life expectancy at birth.
78
80 2
Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births).
6.3
4.5
Under-five mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births.
7.8
5.6
Percentage of the population rated as obese.
30.6%
12.5%
WHO measurement of healthcare system responsiveness (higher = better).
8.1
6.8

  1   The average out-of-pocket medical bill rises to 35% of income for seniors and the chronically ill.
  2   Ranges from 79 to 80.2 with an average of 80.

So, as a nation, we pay more than twice as much per head for our healthcare as the ones with predominantly socialized healthcare, but the only real benefit is that we get treated faster. A cynical person might think that’s because the providers want your money sooner. If you don’t have any insurance, or enough cash/credit, you may have to wait a very long time, or die waiting. I’ve experienced both systems (UK and American) and have family members working in the healthcare industry in both countries. If you look at the above factors there’s no doubt that the socialized systems win hands down.

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4 comments to Proof That Socialized Healthcare Works Better Than Our System

  • Thanks, I love this. Bookmarked it. It’s tough to live in such an insane nation.

  • Luckily, a lot of us are still sane. It doesn’t prevent us from being under-informed, or misinformed, though. Take a look at http://silverbuzzcafe.com/?p=2365 too.

  • rhurc

    please yourself and go live in europe.

    “If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

    -Samuel Adams, (1722-1803)

  • admin

    Too easy. Free healthcare, higher standard of living, less litigation, more freedom (fewer laws), one fortieth the chance of getting killed, way too easy. Can’t stand the weather there though.

    By the way. Nice quote, but irrelevant. We’re not trying to accumulate wealth, merely trying to take care of all Americans, rather than some of them. Do you work for a healthcare company?

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